4X4 driving in some countries
of Africa (excluding South Africa and Madagascar)
is not the sport it has become in first world countries.
Most 4X4 cars in developed countries have never seen an unpaved track.
They are nothing more than status symbols, shiny clean!
On weekends some drivers go out of their way to find a dirt track they are
allowed to drive on.
Malawi cars, on the other hand, have seen more than their share of the action.
They seem to spend more time in the workshop than on the road.
I know from experience!
During the rainy season some areas become inaccessible.
Successfully negotiating a 4X4 track depends as much on the driver
as on the vehicle. Some years ago, on our way to Cape Mcclear in Malawi,
we took the shortcut along the lakeshore.
Our car was a 1979 Ford Cortina two wheel drive.
One of the bridges was washed away,
but by driving down an embankment, through the river
and then ramping at speed up the other side we were able to continue.
On arrival, while having a cool beer in the bar
we overheard the driver of an Unimog telling of the same bridge:
He had decided to turn back!
Okavango in Botswana is a river delta in a semidesert. The water flows seasonally
and floods a large area, before being swallowed by the sand.
The river never reaches the sea.
Here there are many sand roads. Walking along one of these I came across
a Land Rover stuck in the sand. It was dug in up to the axels and I lent a hand
putting branches under the wheels. We paused in our work as a battered
two wheel drive Volkswagen bus drove by.
Keeping the vehicle under control with one hand,
the driver leaned out the window and shouted:
"Sorry, I can't stop!"
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